“It” brings the “it factor” to new Stephen King adaptation

Alex Davidson

Staff Writer

“It,” the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal novel, could very easily have fallen flat, coming 27 years after the mini-series that starred Tim Curry as the iconic Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

Luckily, it didn’t, and we now have a great coming-of-age movie with which to traumatize children until the next remake is released.

This film was directed by Andrés Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the demonic entity stalking the town of Derry, Maine.

It’s almost impossible to go into this movie without comparing Skarsgård’s portrayal of the character to Curry’s iconic 1990 version.

One important difference to consider is the fact that Curry was simply playing the character as a psychopath while Skarsgård played it as an actual creepy clown. Instead of being obnoxious, he plays the clown in a subtly creepy way, saying and doing things that aren’t outright terrifying but still feel just off enough that it makes one’s skin crawl.

Skarsgård wasn’t the only amazing actor in this film, however. The portrayal of Beverly Marsh by Sophia Lillis was incredible. She managed to embody a tough-as-nails girl from the wrong side of the tracks and a smart and sympathetic teammate for the Losers’ Club, the group of children fighting against “It.”

Even though she wasn’t the biggest character, she certainly was the most interesting and dynamic and watching Lillis embody her so well was incredibly enjoyable. Small things in scenes such as one with her in the drug store early on, emphasize the nuances in the personality of the character, which Lillis brings out better than most young actors are able to.

That’s not to say the other Losers’ Club members weren’t fantastic. Each of them brought something unique to the iconic characters from the novel and truly showed what it’s like to be a kid who feels lost. The only way this movie would work was if these actors sold the idea that they were truly alone and very close to being murdered by “It,” and they do an incredible job.

One thing that could have gone very wrong is if the “Losers” had been written like adults stuck as a group of children, but the writers managed to stay away from that. These are genuine kids, and it’s hard not to like every one of them.

The Losers’ Club aren’t only tormented by “It,” though.

One character that was immensely important was Henry Bowers, the school bully and resident psychopath of Derry, Maine. While the others spend their time trying to defeat “It” and put the string of serial murders behind them, Bowers simply wants to make them suffer.

The writers could easily have softened Bowers from the book version, but instead, they took the character from the book and stuck him directly in the movie. Nicholas Hamilton portrayed the unhinged teenager near perfectly, making one feel as though they were actually watching it happen.

While the characters and their actors were the crux of what made the movie great as a coming-of-age story about children facing their fears and banding together, special attention should be given to the sound design.

It takes special talent to make sound design that truly goes perfectly with a movie and the production team for “It” managed to do it. Every sound that is made in the movie lends itself to the atmosphere.

While the movie is a drama about growing up, this movie is still a horror movie; which begs the question: is “It” scary?

The answer is “yes,” but not for the reasons you would expect. There is plenty of gore and lots of jump scares, both of which are effective in conveying just how twisted the town of Derry can be, but the truly horrifying thing in this movie is the people.

Without spoiling anything, there are some truly horrifying people in Derry who can be almost as disturbing, if not more so, than “It.” While the conventional scares are there, there is much more to the suspense and horror of this film than meets the eye.

Overall, this was a fantastic adaptation of a modern classic with great acting across the board, amazing sound design and quite a few scares. If you’re a fan of scary movies and movies about growing up this is a film that shouldn’t be missed.